Rémi Casty is hoping to provide a French Connection Two for Super League after recently signing for ambitious Championship club Toulouse Olympique.
As League Express reported last week, the 35-year-old former Catalans Dragons and French international skipper has signed a one-year deal at Stade Ernest Wallon.
“I’m very happy and excited to be in this team,” Casty told League Express.
“Toulouse Olympique is such a big name in the history of the game here and it means so much to every French player. To now have the opportunity to be part of the first French team ever to challenge for promotion to Super League from the Championship is a real honour.”
Catalans’ shock decision to release their talisman captain left Toulouse with little option but to approach Casty, according to their coach Sylvain Houles, who said: “As soon as Catalans released him we knew we had to have him with us; he is the player that can take us to the next level.
“He completes a very rich squad. We’ve been on it for a little while and he is the missing piece in our group.
“He has incredible experience and is a natural leader, the best French player for generations.
“I can see that this new challenge has given Rémi that competitive spirit which all successful sportsman have. It’s clear that he wants to end his incredible career by doing something special and unique.”
Casty himself admits the new role has energised him, saying: “I can’t wait to be part of the team and join the group this week.
“I will bring my experience, but also I still feel fresh and I’ve got plenty left in the tank to give something to the team. I always knew I had another year in me and to be part of Toulouse’s push for promotion is incredible for me.
“I know Sylvain, we played together at international level, and in those days the team spirit was very good in the squad, so we had many good times together.
“Since then, we have the same friends and we both know Trent Robinson. When he came to France recently Sylvain and I met him and we talked together. I’m very pleased to play for him because I know he is a great coach, his philosophy is very French and expansive.
“The way they play under Sylvain is very refreshing and it reminds me of the way we played many years ago when Trent was the coach at Catalans. It’s a philosophy where we play every play to score tries and I’m very excited to be able to play that kind of rugby again under Sylvain.
“It’s good to throw the ball around and create free-flowing moves and maybe Super League would benefit from this approach. But to survive at the top you need experience and stability and I hope I will bring some of that to the team.
“It will be hard to go up, because the Championship is a tough competition and even more so this year, but it would be a massive achievement for Toulouse and the game in France if we make it.
“We’re not there yet; we just have to be the best team in the Championship this year and stay strong enough to be part of the play-offs; that is the only way into Super League for Toulouse.
“To be part of a second French team in Super League for the game in this country would be huge and I think we would bring energy and enthusiasm to the game at the top level.”
Casty will link up with his new team-mates this week and he can’t wait to run out at Stade Wallon, saying: “It’s one of the best stadiums in France to play rugby, the facilities and the way it is run are absolutely top class.
“I can feel that the club is ready to go up, not only with the quality of the squad and coaching staff, but also the administration of the club.
“They are so professional, their philosophy, the way they are working and thinking is already like a Super League club.
“Toulouse is the fourth city in France, it has a large economy in and around the city, so there is massive potential for the club. Now we have to do it on the field.”
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